Joe Girardi turned 49 years old today. He already got that four-year contract he wanted. Here are a few more things he might have on his wishlist.
1. A healthy and productive Derek Jeter
For two reasons: It would help the Yankees solve an obvious problem in the infield, and it would help Girardi a potentially awkward headache in the clubhouse. Benching Jorge Posada was one thing. Can you imagine being the manager who has to do the same to Derek Jeter?
2. A new contract for Robinson Cano
Doesn’t matter to Girardi how much it costs. What makes his job easiest is putting a no-doubt No. 3 hitter in the lineup, and Cano fills that need better and easier than anyone else who’s readily available. There are other directions the front office could go, but I have to imagine the manager wants his superstar.
3. A strong first two months for Dave Robertson
Or, really, for whoever takes over the ninth inning. A strong start would ease some of the pressure on the pitcher, and ease the pressure on Girardi whenever the new closer inevitably has a bad stretch during the season. The sooner the better for a closer to establish himself.
4. A .280 batting average for Austin Romine
Or, really, for whoever steps in behind the plate. Obviously Girardi wants a catcher who can handle the job defensively, and that preference will come under far less scrutiny if the catcher in question hits at least a little bit. Batting average might be a bad way to judge a hitter, but it might be enough to justify a defense-first catcher.
5. A return-to-form by CC Sabathia
Hard to imagine anyone else starting on Opening Day, and Sabathia’s contract runs the length of Girardi’s new deal. One way or another, Girardi is going to have to lean on his familiar ace. It would be nice if that ace actually pitched like an ace.
Finally, here’s one that just might — might! — be on Girardi’s wishlist and no one else’s…
6. An appeal win for Alex Rodriguez
Here’s why: Girardi and Rodriguez actually seem to have a solid relationship, and Girardi handled all the off-the-field stuff pretty well this season (he was basically kept out of the A-Rod vs. the front office stuff). If Brian Cashman is right and Rodriguez is the best available third baseman — which might be actually be true — then Girardi might genuinely want Rodriguez back next season. It’s not his money, and frankly, keeping Rodriguez’s salary on the books might essentially force the Steinbrenners to ditch that $189 million plan.
Associated Press photo